Days of Hope are held monthly, and will include some Evenings as well. People are free to come and go as their schedule allows. It is an “Open House” type schedule, with a variety of opportunities to experience hope and encounter Jesus.
Mary Jane Fox welcomed attendees to the first Evening of Hope by encouraging them in their decision to come and spend time out of their busy week to hear about Jesus. She said, “Like you, here tonight, Jesus took time out. He would go off from His disciples to spend time with the Father. This is why these Day and Evenings of Hope are being offered; to give us time to go off from our busy schedules and spend time with God.”
Below are summaries of the January Day & Evening of Hope.
DAY of HOPE
Our January Day of Hope began with Mass celebrated by Pilgrim Center of Hope chaplain, Father Pat Martin. In his homily, Father touched on the past of Pilgrim Center of Hope by sharing about the infertility problems that founders, Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox, suffered through. He spoke of the encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ that touched this couple in the most unexpected way while on pilgrimage in the Holy Land.
Father said, “While walking along the Sea of Galilee, Jesus gave each of them a message and it was the same message. This message brought Tom and Mary Jane into full time ministry working for Him. He transformed what the world calls infertility and made them fruitful for His Kingdom. Now twenty-five years later, Pilgrim Center of Hope continues to grow and bear many children of God for Christ. God Bless Pilgrim Center of Hope!”
This Day of Hope brought to Pilgrim Center of Hope both regular participants and a few surprises. A man, Jose, said God told him to come. He saw a bulletin notice a while back and then several little signs that reminded him of this day, but he had made no definite plans to attend. That morning, he was driving down the street, and saw the newly-erected Pilgrim Center of Hope entrance sign. He pulled in, and said he knew God wanted him to come.
Liz was visiting from out of town and was drawn by an announcement to attend. She stayed for Mass, the morning social, veneration of the relic of Saint Henry de Osso, and left following Adoration.
At 12noon, new participants came with their lunch for the brown bag lunch and presentation portion of the Day. Father Pat was the presenter and whetted everyone’s spiritual appetite as we sat down to eat, saying, “You are going to love this story! I call it the Dying Monastery.”
Before beginning, Father shared how he came to tell stories. He said, “I was working at the library in New York. I was a brother, not a priest yet. I would listen as the librarian told stories to the children. I told her, ‘You should tell stories for adults also.’ She responded, ‘I think that is what you are supposed to do.’”
“I realized she was right and began visited nursing homes,” Father said. “I visited forty nursing homes and would tell them stories from what I call, The Great People Series. These were stories of people who kept living when it would be easier to die. Since this was New York City, I met many Jewish people. I heard many horrific stories of Auschwitz and Dachau. I would tell my story, and then they would tell me theirs.”
Then, Father, told his story . . .
The Dying Monastery
In Europe, many years ago, there was a monastery. It was holy, big, alive with activity. The people in the village near it loved the monastery.
When new monks would come, the people would go to greet them. They heard the bells ringing every day. The people would pray for the monks and come and listen as they sang the Liturgy of the Hours. The people took care of the monks.
Then, young monks stopped coming.
Over time, the lights left through the cracks and the windows.
The monastery was dying.
The monks stopped tending the garden. The grass became overgrown. Buildings were becoming shabby and collapsing. People would walk by and see no one.
The bells stopped ringing. A whole generation had not heard them ring.
The monastery was dying.
One day, there was a big clang on the entrance door. The abbot slowly made his way down and opened the door. Standing there was the old rabbi. He was well known as being a holy man.
The rabbi asked, “May I have a little plot inside to build a hermitage?”
The abbot said, “We have many empty rooms, you may certainly have one.”
“No,” said the abbot, “I want to remain just inside the entrance.”
The rabbi built his hermitage and lived there for a while. One day, the abbot came to the rabbi and asked, “Why did you come here?”
The rabbi said, “It is a secret. I will tell you but you cannot tell anyone this secret unless they ask you.”
The abbot agreed. The rabbi said, “I am convinced the Messiah is here in these walls.”
The abbot was surprised to hear this from a Jewish rabbi.
The rabbi died a little while later and the abbot kept the secret.
But to himself, the abbot would say, “The Messiah is here.”
It was not long before many began to notice a change in the abbot. His steps were a little lighter. He was smiling. He was heard whistling and singing.
One day a monk asked the abbot, “What did the rabbi tell you?”
The abbot revealed the rabbi’s secret and it was not long before the monk enjoyed the same change as the abbot.
Over time, the monastery became alive again. Gardens were kept. Buildings were repaired. The monks sang and prayed the Liturgy of the Hours.
They found the Messiah among them.
Then one day, the villagers heard the bells ring.
Father said that he had received in prayer the message to begin his day with prayer. He testified, “Start praying the Rosary. Don’t tell anyone you are doing it. Then, see what happens in your life!”
Father ended the presentation with these words, “I have only one message for the world: His Love!
EVENING of HOPE
The presentation for the Evening was on the Holy Name of Jesus, which is being celebrated by the Church during the entire month of January. Mary Jane said, “The name of Jesus is radical. It is used by exorcists to free souls from possession by the evil one. It is used by the faithful to offer praise and thanksgiving. And, it is, sadly, also used as a curse. It has become a habit for many, and we often hear it spoken in conversations and on TV and the movies. Most are ignorant that using our Lord’s name this way is a great offense.”
Mary Jane then asked a few questions to get our minds thinking about Jesus:
Who is Jesus?
Have you encountered Him?
How do you see Jesus? As a friend? As your Savior? As a judge?
She offered a quote by Pope Francis from his encyclical, Joy of the Gospel: “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.”
Mary Jane explained, “The name Jesus means ‘God saves’, and in His Love for us, God saves us by first coming as a baby. A baby is adorable. It never fails when you lift a baby in the air, you hear many aaaahhs. He came as a baby so that we would not hesitate in approaching him. He came in a stinky stable, laid in a manger, poor and without. What else could He say or do to reassure us, I am one of you. I am one with you. ..?”
“Why did Jesus come when He did?” Mary Jane asked. “In the Gospel of John, we know that Jesus is the Word: ‘In the beginning* was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him,and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’”
We know from Galatians, 4:4-7: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.”
But why not now in 2018? Why was the fullness of time 2000 years ago? Our Church does teach is four reasons why the Word became flesh:
1. To save us and reconcile us to God – due to original sin committed by our ancestors, Adam and Eve, we have no other way to receive Eternal Life.
Through sin our hearts become stony. Jesus’ coming is how our stony hearts are transformed from stone to flesh, how we are able to be reconciled with others so that all people may be united as brothers and sisters and to reconcile us within: mind, body and spirit.
2. To be a role model of holiness. We had lost how to be God’s children. Jesus shows us how through His words and witness.
3. To tell us of the love of the Father. The Source of Love is God. We cannot love ourselves and others without God; the Source of Love.
4. To lead the way to the Father. By following the life of Christ, by picking up our cross as Christ did and by surrendering our lives to Christ, we are led to the Father and to our Eternal Happiness after we die and in joy, even in the midst of suffering, in our journey of life.
To encounter Jesus, we need simply to ask. To ask, we need a desire and what is beautiful, is that the desire we have is placed in us by God.”
Mary Jane returned to what Pope Francis continues to say in the Joy of the Gospel: “The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. ”
Mary Jane explained the best way to take that step toward Jesus is through prayer, and the best way to pray is to present ourselves to God without our own expectations of what we want God to do, but definitely with our concerns. She said by staying constant to God in prayer, carving out time every day to be with Him, we come to see how He has the best plan for our soul.
Mary Jane ended the presentation encouraging us in the reality that through Baptism and Confirmation, we have the same gifts that were given to the Apostles at Pentecost. Like chocolate in milk, these gifts may settle with inattention, but by simply asking the Holy Spirit to help us, these gifts are stirred up and are opened into our daily lives.
“When we fail to act on these gifts,” said Mary Jane, “ask for forgiveness, get up and try again, and visit the Sacrament of Reconciliation to provide the grace of strength and perseverance. Jesus has arranged everything so that we can live in Him and through Him go to the Father. Every day, just proclaim, ‘I am here and I choose Christ today.’”
Mary Jane ended the presentation on the Holy Name of Jesus by telling a pilgrim story by one of the pilgrims who journeyed with Pilgrim Center of Hope to the Holy Land.
She said, “This woman would shudder during meetings when her boss would use the Lord’s name in vain. One day, she walked into her office and told her that she was offended and asked her to please stop. Her boss told her she had no idea it was offending her. A time later, this woman told her boss that she was going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and that one of the places she would be visiting is the Wailing Wall. She asked her Jewish boss if she would like to write down a prayer and have her place it in the Wailing Wall. Her boss responded, ‘Yes, but not just there, pray for me at all the sites you visit.’ The woman did just that. She said that when she returned from pilgrimage, her boss told her that she appreciated the prayers, and that she and her husband had decided to become Catholic and were attending RCIA!”
What a testament to acting in Love of Jesus and the Gospel!
The Evening of Hope ended with veneration of the 1st class relic (piece of body of a saint) of St. Henry de Osso. Henry de Osso founded the Teresian Sisters after his great love of the spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila. He strongly believed that it was the woman in the home who held the key to transforming the family and society ,and would have his sisters visit the wives and mothers in the surrounding neighborhood. As the families were indeed being transformed, a school was needed to teach the children. The sisters opened one of their convents and schools at where Pilgrim Center of Hope now resides. Saint Henry worked with the children and founded the Friends of Jesus Club to teach them about Jesus. When the Teresian Sisters chose to sell the property and move to Covington, LA, they sold the property to Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox for their new ministry, Pilgrim Center of Hope.
On the week that Pilgrim Center of Hope was founded, St. Henry de Osso was being canonized in Rome. The sisters gave the Foxes a tote bag marking the event, and it says in speaking of St. Henry de Osso, “Pilgrim of Faith,” with an image of pilgrim feet walking a journey.
The Foxes have taken this as a sign that St. Henry de Osso approves of, and prays for, the fruitful efforts of Pilgrim Center of Hope. His statue stands on the ground and his relic is on display at the Center. Visitors are welcome anytime to ‘come and see’!
Our next Day of Hope will be held Tuesday, February 26, 2018.